When Al asked me to write a Cubs Gift Guide as I have in past years, I winced at the thought of going through the copious amounts of merchandise with a Cubs logo slapped on it, in an attempt to pick out the single best item for each member of an average Cubs fan family. Since winning the World Series, the Cubs have been cashing in, selling everything from ugly sweaters to dog kerchiefs to giant inflatable snowmen. Sure, you could buy someone a $32 Cubs golf umbrella this holiday season, but why not give what really makes people happy. Togetherness and Cubs experiences. I’ve got some ideas, because I was just given the best gift ever.
Club 400 is Stewart McVicar’s award winning fan cave in Lake in the Hills, Illinois. I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to entertain with my Cubs songs during events with Ryne Sandberg, Tom Ricketts, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Carl Edwards Jr., and Miguel Montero and have led fun Cubs Christmas Carol sing-a-longs in Stewart’s memorabilia decked out basement. I’ve eaten delicious catered food and craft beer while hanging out with Cubs greats. And being a Club 400 member has its privileges...
I cracked my Martin Guitar after jamming out at the Club 400 tent last Spring Training and lugged around a duct-taped acoustic all summer long.
Stewart took notice and along with help from my Son Ranto podcasting partners and my girlfriend Nicole, people pitched $2,069.69 towards a new guitar! Nice...
And I had Miguel Montero sign my giant check!
So not only can anyone go to Club 400 and raise money for different charities while hanging out with your favorite Cubs players, but you are communing with the best possible people! Generous Cubs fans who know how to party. I was given a shocking and unforgettable gift to help keep the Cubs songs flowing at the party. A Club 400 party is an unforgettable experience and the perfect gift for any Cubs fan.
Club 400 is my top Cubs gift pick! Everyone should go!
Tickets range from $75 to over $200 and include food and drinks, photos and autographs. And Stewart says that event gift certificates are available if you contact him at Club 400.
Keep abreast of upcoming events at the Club 400 website. And if you do your charity giving during the holiday you can help “Cubs Fans Help Cubs Fans” by making a donation.
Here’s another idea inspired by Club 400’s crowd funding of the most wonderful gift I ever received. Instead of buying everyone in the family $40 plaid Cubs pajama pants at Cubs.com, save the money and promise the family a trip to see the Cubs this year. I obviously don’t know where you live and if the Cubs will be playing anywhere near you and your personal availability, but if they are and you can, go!
I mean, what’s more exciting? Opening up gift wrapped Cubs pajama pants or announcing that your present is to take someone to Texas for Opening Day? I realize the vast price differential between pajama pants and a trip, but what if, like Club 400 did for me and my guitar, you crowdsourced the gift and you all give that person the trip to Texas?
Nobody ever knows what to get anybody. Might as well pitch in and give them something they really want as opposed to another Cubs hat that they’d probably want to pick out themselves anyway. I purchased one of those new no-frills airline tix on United for $89 round trip for Opening Day! I just checked again and depending on when you can go, the cheapest flight is $107 from Chicago. If 4 people give $40-50, you’ve got enough for a flight and a ticket to Opening Day!
A Cubs trip, whether to Wrigley Field or to see the Cubs on the road is the best possible gift to give any Cubs fan. Even a Stubhub gift card would suffice. I’d much rather have a couple hundred bucks to spend on tickets than a 30-40 dollar something or other that my loved ones feel obligated to give me.
Americans will spend $465 billion dollars on Christmas. That averages to over 1400 bucks per person. I don’t know what they count as holiday spending and I know the rich and poor have different spending ability, but crowdsourcing a gift to give someone something they really need, even if it’s getting people to pitch in on paying off a Cubs fan’s credit card debt so they can put Cubs games on their credit card next season seems better than another (insert Cubs player here) shirsey present. I really needed a guitar, my friends bought me a guitar. It changed my life. If you can give someone something life changing, have people pitch in and do something big. It takes more effort, but the payoff is huge.
Or how about the gift of doing something together! A family outing at Winterland at Gallagher Way seems like a great gift that everyone can enjoy. The rink at Wrigley will be open from today through January 27 and Santa skates with kids on Thursday from 4:30-6:30. Plus they will be showing holiday movies like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Vacation on Friday nights through January 24. But what I’m most excited about is the new Chimes exhibit! So beautiful!
A group of us are planning to go ice skating and Cubs caroling (bar hopping) sometime around the Winter Solstice and check out Winterland. The most important thing we can gift each other is togetherness and community.
But if you want to buy a physical gift, won’t you please buy Cubs gear from one of the many hard working Cubs fans and new media pros who keep us all entertained throughout the season? Cubs bloggers, podcasters and die hard fans design some of the best Cubs t-shirts and artwork on the market. Selling Cubs stuff is how many of us stay afloat financially. And you can start right here on Bleed Cubbie Blue and order a David Bote Ultimate Walk Off Shirt for only $5!
Or head on over to Crawly’s Clubhouse and pick up a Team Chemistry Shirt. One of Crawly’s awesome Cubs designs.
Or shop at 1908 Tees where they sell creative and high quality shirts and support their program of sending kids to Cubs Youth Baseball Clinics, including my nephew Markus!
I’ve also personally made a bunch of shirts with varying degrees of hilarity to help keep my Son Ranto enterprise in tickets and beer. They are for sale at Amazon.
I also have John Baker Day T-Shirts and Fanny packs still available if you missed out! All proceeds will go to funding next year’s John Baker Day charity event!
Also shop at your other favorite Cubs bloggers’ and podcasters’ stores!
My good friends at Ivy Envy sell mugs, shirts and hoodies.
Evan Altman and company at Cubs Insider have a ton of great stuff at their Spreadshirt store!
Even my buddy Bleacher Jeff made an awesome “No Fighting in the Bleachers” shirt that he’d be happy to sell you! Get one at his Bleacher Bum Brand store!
If you’re into the crowdsourcing an expensive gift and you know someone who would love a custom Cubs bar for their fan cave, you can buy one from Noah Ramos, a local craftsman and Military Veteran at Bar it Up, whose incredibly crafted Cubs tables and bars have been featured for sale and auction at events at Club 400.
You can contact Noah at Bar It Up’s Facebook Page.
How about some Cubs artwork by my friend Matt Kammerer! He is selling these El Mago prints! The best way to contact him is on Twitter. @skinnibastid
Or support the independent artists at Art of Words per a Cubs fan suggestion on Twitter.
Or the artwork of Austin Ploch.
(I’m leaving so many local Cubs fan artists out, so I will continue to post links to artists here. Please post more links and ideas in the comments.)
Rikk Carlson’s Cubs Portraits
The Chicago Style clothing line of Relish Brand. (I’m told he has secret Cubs gear)
We are so lucky as Cubs fans to belong to such a loyal and talented fanbase. I know I’m personally lucky having been gifted a tool to make more Cubs music by my Cubs family. It took a lot of people to raise the money to make that happen for me, and I will thank them with every note I play on my new guitar. If there’s a Cubs fan on your shopping list whose life could be changed and inspired with a crowd sourced gift like my new guitar, I can personally vouch for it being the best gift ever. Not for the couple grand it saved me from putting on a credit card and paying off on time. But for the beautiful act of giving. You know, what it’s supposed to be all about.
Another amazing thing you can do with your Christmas money is to make a tax-deductible donation to a not-for-profit in the name of someone. I would love to be given the gift of giving instead of a pair of Cubs socks. And the gift is tax deductible for the giver! Here is a list of charities to consider.
I mentioned earlier giving to Club 400 and helping Cubs Fans Help Cubs Fans.
I also met this amazing 13-year-old kid named Campbell at Club 400 who feeds the homeless and buys clothes and toys for kids. His charity is called Campbell’s Crew and worthy of our support.
My friend Tony Spangenberg, who lovingly saves me seats in the LF well, works for a not-for-profit that houses families of sick kids called IMD Guesthouse.
Joe Maddon’s Hazleton Integration Project does great community based work in Joe’s hometown.
Support the performing arts by donating to Trap Door Theatre where I compose and sound design and help keep Chicago artists funded.
Numerous Cubs players, including Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester, have foundations where you can make donations for good causes.
Cubs Charities does a lot of great work, including providing grants for Little League fields and equipment.
There are so many great causes who need our support! Please leave your favorite charities in the comments.
So shop creatively! Shop with purpose! Shop at the stores of your Cubs fan family! Make that $465 billion matter this year! We’re Cubs fans and we do things better than everyone else. Why should our holiday shopping not be as awesome as our fandom?